Enright Gets the Call
Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Dan Strittmatter
One of the many subplots of the 149-pitch Edwin Jackson no-hitter was how the team would give Jackson some extra rest to compensate for the fact that Jackson threw so many pitches in one outing. So when the news broke on Sunday that manager A.J. Hinch had decided to push back Jackson’s next start two day, it came as a surprise to nobody.
However, this opened up a hole in the rotation for Wednesday’s game in St. Louis, when Jackson was originally slated to start. The team did not have a day off between Jackson’s no-no and the Wednesday game, so any of the other members of the Arizona rotation would have had to pitch on short rest if they were to fill Jackson’s spot. Add in the fact that the D-backs rotation has already been heavily taxed in 2010, and it was clear that an alternative solution was needed.
So the team instead looked to the minor leagues, announcing that it will purchase the contract of Double-A Mobile right-hander Barry Enright, who will bring his fantastic command of his four-pitch mix to St. Louis for his Major League debut in Jackson’s place.
Enright was selected by the D-backs in the second round of the 2007 draft following his junior year at Pepperdine University, where he was a third team All-American. He threw 15 innings that year, split between Short-Season Yakima, Single-A South Bend, and Single-A Advanced Visalia. Enright then started 2008 back at Visalia, where he went 12-8 in 29 starts with a 4.44 ERA (3.34 FIP), a 143:35 K:BB ratio, and 17 home runs allowed in 29 starts spanning 164 1/3 innings.
Enright then moved up to Double-A Mobile in 2009, where he had a solid basic production – a 3.98 ERA in 27 starts spanning 156 innings. But he saw his impressive strikeout rate from Visalia dip, recording just 103 punch-outs, a rate of just 5.94 per nine innings. He remained effective by continuing to be stingy in allowing free-passes, keeping his FIP at a solid 3.82.
In 2010, the team invited Enright to Major League camp for Spring Training, and the club got an extended look at their polished right-hander, who put on an impressive display, with his overall numbers spiked by an unfortunate string of singles in his final appearance. There is video available of Enright’s fourth Spring appearance, when he walked just one and struck out four Cubs, including Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee, and Alfonso Soriano, video here.
Due to upper-level depth of starting pitching in the system — with Kevin Mulvey, Bryan Augenstein, Cesar Valdez, Kris Benson and Billy Buckner then manning Triple-A Reno’s Opening Day rotation slots, subsequently followed by Matt Torra and Wes Roemer — Enright was assigned to Mobile again to begin 2010 and try to resurrect his strikeout rate.
The results have been everything the team could have hoped for, as Enright has struck out 83 in 93 2/3 innings over 14 starts, while still allowing just 15 free passes, giving him a D-backs’ system-best 5.53 strikeouts per walk. His ERA is a shiny 2.88, his FIP an equally-impressive 3.06, and his WHIP is a spectacular 1.02.
Mobile catcher Konrad Schmidt offered his scouting report of Enright when the news broke that Enright would be called up to the majors:
“He’s really a competitor on the mound,” Schmidt told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. “He’s got good stuff and he’s really fun to catch. He’s got great command, throwing four pitches for a strike right now. There’s been some pretty potent lineups he’s gone against in this league and he’s done well. He’s like a bulldog.”